How important are large images?

Duncan Stephen
Monday 6 October 2014

Image-focused design: Is bigger better?

The latest research from Nielsen Norman Group surrounds the use of large images.

The rationale for this approach is that compelling images have a unique ability to inspire and engage your audience. In his book, Emotional Design, Don Norman described the powerful, visceral responses people can have to visual appearance. Websites can elicit positive visceral responses from people by displaying aesthetically pleasing images – beautiful scenery, sleek products, and attractive people…

But visceral appeal is not the only requirement for a good user experience. Websites also need to deliver content and functionality to users.

The image on the new Southwest design is captivating, but devoting this much emphasis to any single design element necessarily means that users are less likely to notice other elements — some of which may serve more important goals.

The article notes that most websites benefit from “a balanced approach: images that support the brand, without obscuring other important content.”

The new design makes use of large images where appropriate, but we ensure that they are used sparingly and always to support a major call to action.

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